Sunday, January 5, 2014

Christmas, Mecham-style!

We had a great Christmas! It was fun to spend Christmas Eve in Prescott Valley with almost all of the family. We honored our family tradition and feasted on homemade gyoza, had a book exchange among the little cousins, the family gift exchange, and a talent show. My grandpa Mecham was there, and my mom's sister, Barbara, joined us as well. The only one missing from the family was Philip, which was a bummer. It was a fun day with the family.

Lola at 16 months old

Here's the little beauty at 16 months.

Lola at 17 months

She's so cute...even when (okay, especially when) she is being sassy.

I can't believe she's 17 months old.  One more month and she can go into the nursery at church. I have mixed feelings about that. :-)  She may be a momma's girl. I'm definitely that girl's momma, and I can't get enough of her most of the time!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Climb the next mountain

Orrin Woodward shared a story on his blog that reminded me of my six trips down the Grand Canyon.  Here is an excerpt:

"Sometimes we have to be brave enough to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Life isn’t just reaching peaks. Part of it is moving from one peak to the next. If you rest too long in between, you might be tempted to quit. Leave the past in the past. Climb the next mountain and enjoy the view."

There's nothing like the view at the top of the Grand Canyon, both the North and South rims. The colors, shadows, and endless canyons of various depths could take me, a willing prisoner, to a timeless sentence of peace and wonder.  I do believe that just about anyone can experience and appreciate the canyon's beauty from the rim; however, there is a significant authenticity of appreciation when you have had to endure the steep trails to get from the bottom to the distant top. 

Just as Orrin said, resting too long can leave you tempted to quit. The canyons of the Grand Canyon are just as beautiful as the rims. The temperature is quite warm, similar to Phoenix, whereas the rims are cooler like Flagstaff. The beautiful Colorado River is a commanding presence and a cool gift to tired feet that have been hiking all day. There are waterfalls, streams, trees that lull you to sleep as the breeze gently stirs the leaves into a quiet symphony. Phantom Ranch offers a sense of rustic normalcy at the bottom of the canyon with a small store, deliciously carbonated soda (such a treat to experience there!), some community games like horseshoes, friendly company, delicious family-style dinners, and even a bed and shower if you were lucky enough to have made those reservations! The campsites are comfortable and have always provided good company as well. It really is easy to get comfortable there. But alas, we must be willing to leave the past in the past, start that grueling climb, reach a new peak, and have that fresh accomplishment to savor and enjoy. 

The first mile of hiking out of the Grand Canyon via the Bright Angel Trail is the worst part of the hike...even worse than the Devil's Corkscrew, I think! It is sandy, endlessly winding along the Colorado River without gaining much altitude. Truly, it is a discouraging start. You feel like you are putting forth so much effort to no avail, and when you know just how much altitude lies ahead in the hike, it feels like a waste of time. I have desired to quit and return to the comforts of Phantom Ranch. 

Life is a lot like this. Any new and worthy venture that will require our best character and strength has that initial excitement that can be quickly snuffed out by the reality of how much work is to come. Marriage, motherhood, moving out of state, and starting a new job are just a few examples of these ventures in my life. Fortunately, the previous mountain peaks provide a memory, an emotional, spiritual, physical, and even cellular memory of what grace has come and will come into our lives.

I remember one time hiking the Grand Canyon when it was snowing toward the top of the South Rim.  It was one of the most peaceful experiences I have ever had, hiking alone through the snow that absorbed all sound.  The only thing I could hear was the crunch of snow under my boots and my heavy breathing.  In those moments, God's presence was near, and his Spirit filled my heart. The discomfort of hiking uphill in those conditions paled the significance of the moment and the anticipation of the hot chocolate I would soon enjoy in the lodge.  Yes, grace has come and will come into our lives.

I have faith that amazing things are going to happen in our family this year and beyond. The valleys, canyons, and plains are preparing us for the next mountaintop. Some of the events I hope to experience along the way are finding our own home, growing our family, becoming financially free, and being sealed as an eternal family. I truly look forward to the next peak as I enjoy learning from where I am today.

 “When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.” 
― Kahlil Gibran